Art for our times

Art for our time

Welcome to week three of The Fine Arts Connector, your weekly listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from the Faculty of Fine Arts, specifically compiled for distribution during the current health crisis.

As well as the stories listed below, a number of people in the Fine Arts community made news this week, including:

Please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us connected in this difficult moment in history. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either fineartsevents@uvic.ca or johnt@uvic.ca. Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each week.

Current Writing student, Martlet staff writer and Vikes athlete Josh Kozelj penned an op-ed for CBC this week on the differences between physical and social distancing

News

New CBC Creative Relief Fund

CBC has launched a new Creative Relief Fund to provide immediate, urgent support to Canadian creators. This unprecedented new fund will provide $2 million in development & production funding for a diverse range of innovative, original Canadian storytelling—including scripted comedies and dramas, unscripted entertainment, kids & young adult programming, podcasts, play adaptations and short documentaries.

“In this time of challenge and change, we are working as quickly as we can to provide much-needed support to Canadian creators with this initiative that will immediately open up new funding across a range of storytelling,” says CBC Executive Vice-President Barbara Williams. “As we all look for programming to inspire, entertain and connect us during this period of physical distancing, we want to recognize the incredibly important role our artistic and creative communities serve and provide them with urgent funding to innovate and tell their stories in entirely new ways.”

The application period runs April 9-24, with eligible applicants being notified of their project’s status starting on May 8. Full details at this link.

Latest #CanadaPerforms update

Add another $100,000 to the National Arts Centre’s short-term relief fund series #CanadaPerforms, which grew to $700,000 this past week. They’ve also announced they are now continuing their scheduled performance series through to May 31, and are extending the application period to April 20, so there’s still time to apply with your 45-to-60-minute online performance concept and join the likes of current Writing  MFA candidate Kim Senklip Harvey, Music alum Clare Yuan (as half of the Meeks Duo) and Theatre alum Charles Ross, who will be offering a livestream production of his One-Man Pride & Prejudice on April 18.

You can see a list of all upcoming #CanadaPerforms events here.

The Great Indoors project

As individuals we’re confined to our own spaces these days. But as a community we can exchange ideas, start conversations, and be there for one another online. With that very thought, UVic launched The Great Indoors on April 6 as a place to experience the vibrancy of UVic’s active academic community from the safety of home.

As the project description notes, The Great Indoors “reflects what happens when we bring together a diverse mix of faculty, staff, students and alumni in a labour of community-love. We hope our content and conversation educates, entertains, inspires and connects.”

Following the format of an online magazine, The Great Indoors offers different sections with different content. You’ll find three pieces involving members of the Fine Arts community in the “Culture Club” section, two of which are drawn from UVic’s Research Reels archive:

If you have something you’d like to share on The Great Indoors, they’re adding content regularly and looking for new posts to share from the UVic community. Email thegreatindoors@uvic.ca with your ideas.

Resources

YYJ Arts United

Much like this blog, YYJ Arts United is another initiative of Acting Dean of Fine Arts, Allana Lindgren. This new Facebook group is conceived as a convenient, one-stop online option to help fill the cultural gap during the current health crisis by sharing online and livestream content from across Victoria’s diverse arts community.

An intentionally cross-discipline initiative, YYJ Arts welcomes posts from any Victoria-based cultural organization or individual artist interested in sharing their creative practice with the general public during these difficult times. Theatre, music, dance, film, opera, literary arts, visual arts, performance art, museum exhibitions . . . all are welcome, as all of Victoria’s arts organizations must stand united.

Micro-loans for artists

If—like so many artists at this time—you’re feeling financially stretched thin, you can explore this option for micro-loan for artists. “Artists of any discipline can request a one-time, no-questions-asked, micro grant of $75 for groceries, food and other essentials,” notes Toronto-based performance company Bad New Days. “Grants will be first come, first served and we’ll keep giving them out as long as the money lasts.”

To apply, simply email Bad New Days and identify that you are an artist in the message. That’s it! No further info is required. They do ask, however, that if you’re in a position to donate anything—no matter how small—please do. “This is a very small action we can do as a community to immediately offer some aid to those who need it,” says BDN’s Adam Paolozza and Victor Pokinko. “If you can give, please do! If you’re in need, please ask!”

Mental health resources

As we look ahead to at least another month of physical distancing, the BC Alliance for Arts & Culture offers an extensive list of mental health resources for artists, ranging from the very specific (“A Guide to Caring for your Coronavirus Anxiety”) to the general (a collection of calm meditations).

And remember, it’s normal to feel stressed, sad, confused, scared or angry in a time of uncertainty and unpredictability. If you’ve noticed an increase in anxiety, be kind to yourself—you’e not alone. All UVic faculty and staff can find support through the employee and family assistance program, while Counselling Services offers free support to current UVic students over the phone at 250-721-8341. You can also call Multifaith Services at 250-721-8338.

Podcast start-ups

While there’s no shortage of free content to peruse right now, why not make time work for you? If you’ve ever thought about starting a podcast, Medium.com offers this fantastic guide to quickly creating a podcast specifically for museums and galleries, big or small.

 

All’s quiet at the Phoenix Theatre these days

Master of Music Performance candidate Jorge Eduardo Flores Carrizales

“Dream” recital offers echoes of Mexico

Nothing is more stressful for a student musician than a graduation recital—but having your recital upended by a global health crisis adds a whole other level of stress to the process. Consider international Master of Music Performance candidate Jorge Eduardo Flores Carrizales, who was scheduled to present his live performance to his grad committee on March 30, headed by his supervising School of Music professor Arthur Rowe.

“As you know, the School of Music was closed weeks before students were expecting classes to end,” explains Rowe. “A number of students worked especially hard to move their recital dates up for completion. The School in all cases provided an audio technician to record the recitals, which took place in our recital hall with no one else but the technician there.”

Those audio-only files were then sent to the various committees for evaluation, but Carrizales—who Rowe describes as “a wonderful person, and personality, [who] has contributed a great deal to the School of Music”—was eager to take things a step further.

“Since the end of his first year he has been excited about planning his graduating recital, in which he wanted to focus on music and composers of his native Mexico,” explains Rowe. “Fully a year ago, he showed me a map of the country as well as where the composers whom he would chose had lived. Along with this, he planned to display artwork that was representative of the place and time by means of a screen and computer; he had even planned to bring his guitar to play a song that one of the composers used.”

But despite everything changing so dramatically over the past few weeks, Carrizales was reluctant to give up his dream of presenting “this complete picture of his program”. Instead, he hired a videographer at his own expense to record alongside Music’s audio technician on March 30, and then spent his own time editing the recital together.

The resulting concert “Echoes of Mexico” offers, as Carrizales notes in his program, “an anthology of works by Mexican composers that synthesizes more than a century of the history of piano music in the country. The variety of styles presented in this program takes us from Porfirio Díaz’s pre-revolutionary Eurocentric Mexico, to a country in search of a national identity, and finally to the variety of modern styles of the present. [This] program invites you to travel through the diverse landscapes of Mexico, giving you not only a musical perspective, but also broader cultural experience.”

Jorge Carrizales was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. At 17 he met the pianist Sergio Peña, with whom he started to study music. Seven months after initiating his piano lessons, Jorge performed his first piano recital at the Ted Sadlowski Music Hall. In 2010, and after the passing of Peña, Carrizales was given a special award to pursue a formal music education in the interior of Mexico. In 2016, he obtained a Bachelor of Music with honours from the University of Guanajuato, where he studied with Elena Podzharova. During his career, Carrizales has given recitals in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

“I think his program is unusual and beautifully presented,” concludes Rowe. “It is also a wonderful representation of the spirit of so many of our students in the face of this enormous difficulty and disruption.”

If you’re moved by his performance (watch to the end for a final flourish), you can reach Jorge Carrizales directly via email.

AHVS grad student challenges isolation

Current Art History & Visual Studies graduate student Ashley Riddett is currently working with Oak Bay’s Gage Gallery Arts Collective to create an online artwork sharing platform and blog series called Challenging Crisis with Creativity.

“We are encouraging anyone from the Greater Victoria area to send along an image of their works,” says Riddett. “These could be painting, drawings, poems, or however one expresses their reactions within our new reality. The goal is to create a space where we can share our works with others and help to foster community outreach and help all of us to realize that we are not alone in this new time.”

Challenging Crisis with Creativity offers shifting weekly themes like “Social Distancing” and  “Reconnecting with Nature”, and offer a place for local artists to connect, reflect and share their current work.

“This is essential to my well being, and for other people as well to have that connection,” says Riddett in this April 11 Times Colonist story about the community-building project, which she says, is aimed at inspiring non-artists, “people who aren’t normally asked to participate in gallery exhibitions.” The project was also covered by the Oak Bay News.

You can contact Ashley Riddett via email.

Laughter is still the best medicine

Like most authors launching books this spring, award-winning writer, playwright and Writing/Theatre alum Mark Leiren-Young has had his schedule upended. But while the author of two recent books on orcas—The Killer Whale Who Changed the World and the children’s book Orcas Everywhere: The History and Mystery of Killer Whales—plus two brand-new kids books (Orcas of the Salish Sea, Big Whales, Small World) has had to put his promotional plans on hold, he is continuing to produce his popular podcast Skaana: Orcas and Oceans.

But Leiren-Young is also well known as a humourist: winner of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for his memoir Never Shoot A Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo and one-half of the long-running satirical comedy duo Local Anxiety, he was also the 2014 Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in the Writing department, offering a course titled “Finding the Funny”.

In addition to delivering a public lecture in his role as the Southam Lecturer (“You Can’t Say That!? Comedy, Censorship and Sensitivity in the 21st Century”), Leiren-Young also adapted his course for this episode of CBC Radio’s Ideas, which features excerpts from that public lecture as well as a conversation with host Paul Kennedy.

And while the whole idea of comedy right now seems both dangerous and necessary, Leiren-Young was clearly ahead of his time in exploring what happens when a joke goes too far and actually cross “the line”? But what defines “the line”: individual taste, or social convention? Clearly, he’s got the right idea, as he continues to teach courses in both humour writing and TV writing at UVic.

You can also enjoy this separate pre-show talk about the Phoenix Theatre’s 2019 mainstage production of 7 Stories. In this talk from March 15, 2019, he discusses the significance, history and secret origins of Morris Panych’s modern masterpiece 7 Stories in celebration of the play’s 30th anniversary.

The world of today, tomorrow

Join us for an informative lecture prior to our performances on the first Friday. For Comic Potential, we welcome Dr. Edwin Hodge who will discuss the importance of sci-fi and other speculative fiction in exploring the human condition.

Dr. Edwin Hodge is an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology at the UVic and a research fellow at the Centre for Global Studies. In his role as an educator, Edwin has produced several special topics courses, including ones that examine extremist social movements in North America, but his most enjoyable course has been his course on the Sociology of Star Trek, which examined the cultural impact of the Star Trek franchise.

See this art

Last year, Visual Arts professor Daniel Laskarin was selected to participate in the City of Victoria’s juried Storefronts Victoria Exhibition Program, which tasked local artists with animating six vacant downtown storefronts with dynamic art installations. These site-specific works—all located within the 700 block of Douglas Street—were installed with the intent to engage the public both during the day and at night. Four of the six chosen projects involved members of the Visual Arts community, including Laskarin. His installation—titled “to see again”—comes from an interest in how we see and how we construct ideas from our perception.

“Things are known as images more than as the things themselves,” explains Laskarin. “Here, the public will have both: original sculptures and a fragmented video image of them as they are revealed and hidden by the moving camera. The work provides a dualistic experience: a thing (actually two) and an image of the thing, or the real, and its representation. At the same time, from around the corners of the video panels the mechanism for creating this dualism will also be visible.”

With a background as a helicopter pilot and an MFA from UCLA, Laskarin has produced and exhibited his work across Canada and internationally. Recent projects are evolving into work that finds possibilities for reclamation within conditions of collapse, decay or ruin; alongside his studio practice, Laskarin has been involved with set design, public image projections and large scale public art commissions in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to Laskain, three Visual Arts alumni were also involved in the Storefronts exhibition: Libby Oliver, Maddy Knott and Laura Gildner.

Daniel Laskarin’s “to see again”

A song for everyone

Posted by Daniel Laskarin on Friday, April 3, 2020

More to come weekly

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

George Corwin: A life defined by music

Musician, conductor, educator and a legendary figure in the UVic School of Music pantheon, Professor Emeritus George Corwin passed away in his sleep on March 28 at the age of 91. But his influence, wisdom and indomitable love of music will live on through the generations of musicians he inspired.

Growing the School of Music

George Corwin, 1929-2020

During his more than 25 years teaching at UVic, from 1969 to 1995, George helped grow the School of Music to over 200 students and 22 faculty members; directed the UVic Orchestra, UVic Chorus, Chamber Singers and Sonic Lab; and was central to the design of the Farquhar Auditorium in the University Centre—a particular triumph for him when it opened in 1978, and still used by the Orchestra and Chorus to this day.

Refusing to let retirement slow him down, George travelled to Thailand in 1994 to teach and direct the orchestra at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, formed the ensemble Concentus Corvinus in 1995 and continued to direct many local ensembles—notably the Victoria Gilbert & Sullivan Society, the Victoria Operatic Society, the Civic Orchestra and the DieMahler Ensemble. Indeed, George’s final performance was on Feb 28, 2020—only a month before his death—with the DieMahler Ensemble.

“He loved music,” notes fellow School of Music Professor Emeritus Dr. Gerald King, former conductor of the UVic Wind Symphony. “He was a fine musician, conductor—always prepared—[and] a wonderful model for all of us. It is with great sadness that I write this; however, there is much joy in what I learned from this amazing man, musician, colleague and friend.”

A lasting legacy

A major influence on several generations of students, it was in his role as teacher that George left his most lasting legacy.

“Dr. Corwin is the reason I conduct,” says Music alum Kathleen Mulligan on this page of reminiscences. Now a music educator based in New Zealand, Mulligan says his influence was invaluable. “His process of teaching these skills through The Messiah gave me all the tools I needed to work with wind bands big and small, beginner to advanced. I loved those classes . . . . thanks for the music, George.”

“I have fond—and terrifying—memories of playing and singing for Dr. Corwin,” says Music alum Nick Apivor. “He was tough on us all and didn’t put up with any BS, but it was only because he cared about the music and cared about us as musicians. His influence on generations of musicians is enormous: he prepared us for the real world, he showed me the difference a fine conductor can make on an orchestra, and he exposed me to a world of beautiful classical music that I treasure. Such a gift!”

Describing him as “a profound presence in the Victoria music community,” alum Alan Riches recalls George as “a formidable presence, [but] he always approached his instruction in a calm and learned way. I loved my time under his tutelage while a member of the UVic Orchestra.”

“He was the most amazing man . . . I value all the things he taught,” notes Carrie Taylor, while fellow alum Ken Brewer says, “I am the musician I am today because of the tutelage of this strong man. He is in my heart and soul forever.”

His early years

Corwin at a 1977 UVic Orchestra rehearsal

Born in Goshen, New York, in 1929, George’s love for music first started at St. Thomas Choir School in New York City, which he attended from the ages of seven to 12, becoming a lead soloist; his musical studies in orchestra and choir continued at the Newburgh Free Academy, after which he joined the United States Marine Corps at 17, serving in both Hawaii and Korea. After his discharge, he enrolled in the Ithaca College School of Music, where he performed in orchestras and bands as a trombonist and percussionist, and also continued to sing; it was at Ithaca that he met his future wife—Joanne Elizabeth Bahn—on a blind date, where both completed their degrees in Music and married in August 1953.

In 1960 George was invited by noted American composer Howard Hanson to join the conducting staff at the famed Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. “Howard Hanson was the most important figure in my entire life as a musician and teacher,” George recalled. “Hanson put me in classes that he knew I was capable of teaching, and at the same time they were classes that would help me advance in my career.”

Conducting the Eastman Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and becoming music director of the Collegium Musicum, George completed his doctoral studies and taught for two years at Indiana’s Ball State University before coming to Victoria in 1969 at the invitation of then-Chair of Music, Phillip T. Young, to develop UVic’s orchestra and choir.

“A major figure in my life”

But few can articulate George’s influence more than alumnus and noted Vancouver composer David MacIntyre, who recently retired as chair of the Music program at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, where he taught for 38 years following his studies at UVic.

“I first met George Corwin when I transferred to UVic as a fourth-year undergrad in the fall of 1973. Although I was a major in music composition, I knew from the moment I met him that he was going to be a major figure in my life,” says MacIntyre.

“Indeed, he became exactly that and my life is richer simply for having known him—but he was more than a teacher. He was a mentor and guide from the end of my undergraduate studies until I’d finished grad school and I’d been appointed to a tenure track position at SFU. Then, he became my friend, a close and valued friend, one of those rare friends that you can count on as long as you live your life. And I counted on him and he was there for me—from my appointment at SFU at the tender age of 26 until the day he died. Coupled with the six years I was his student both as an undergrad and grad student, I’ve known George Corwin over 50 years—and, you know, the man grows on you!”

“If you love music—in all its breadth, width, depth, height and joy—then you can’t help but love that man,” he continues. “He was serious about the art of music, extremely serious, extremely demanding. And he demands the same of every musician he works with. He never says it, of course, because the great ones never do. He simply is demanding of himself and of you.”

“George Corwin was a class act like no other. He was a man of extraordinary knowledge and love of music. One cannot conduct so many works without the depth of love and study he brought to every score he encountered,” MacIntyre concludes. “Music has rarely had such a faithful servant.”

As Stravinsky once said to him . . .

As noted in his Times Colonist obituary, composer Igor Stravinsky once said to George, “Young man, your job as a conductor is not to interpret the composer’s music. It is your job to find the composer in his music and allow him to speak.”

George will forever be remembered for finding the composer’s voice and allowing us to experience the joy of music with him.